Temporary Tattoos for a Win

Tattooist Jason Ward has been applying temporary tattoos for a client every week for a few months. His client has Down syndrome.

Tattoo Artist Ward New Zealand Herald

Via The New Zealand Herald.

Mr. Ward explains:

“It started out as something quite funny though, I mean, who does that? Who walks into a tattoo shop to get stick on tattoos? But if she was a member of my family and she had have walked into another tattoo shop and they had told her to bugger off, I’d be angry. Why would you say no? You should treat everybody the same.”

Found via The New Zealand Herald.

Because empathy matters!

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Most Children’s Books Are Still about White Boys?

In her blog post published in Huffington Post, writer Soraya Chemaly cites a 2011 Florida State University (FSU) study that found 100 years of gender bias in children’s books. The FSU team analyzed nearly 6,000 books published from 1900 to 2000 – which makes it the most comprehensive study of 20th century children’s books ever undertaken in the U.S. – and found clear bias towards men and boys as lead characters. The post gives some core findings from the study:

“A girl’s imagination and literary life would be a stark and barren place if she didn’t learn early on to read books about boys, put herself in boys’ shoes and enjoy them. As with other aspects of socially sanctioned behavior, children’s ability to cross-gender empathize is a one-way street — girls have to do it and boys learn not to. People are married to enduring ideas about ‘otherness’ when it comes to masculinity and a big part of being a ‘real boy’ is disdaining stories, books, movies, and games … about girls.”

“Researcher Isabelle Cherney found that half of boys ages 5-13 picked ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ toys equally… unless they were being watched. They were especially concerned about what their fathers would think of them if they saw them. Over time, boys’ interests in toys and media become more rigidly masculinized, whereas girls’ stay relatively open-ended and flexible. Think of the implications of storytelling on that pattern and what it means for social skills development, adaptability, work-life issues and more.”

Ms. Chemaly argues that media that distorts reality in this way hurts everyone. She says:

“Boys aren’t responsible for the perpetuation of media injustices or their effects. The problem is not boys, but cultural habits that disproportionately favor them.”

“As children grow up, girls’ media marginalization becomes more acute and racialized. We seem incapable and unwilling to deeply consider the societal effects of dysfunctional, stereotype-plagued media. Without fail, when I talk or write about this and focus on girls, the first response I get is ‘What about the boy crisis?’ It’s remarkable. So, what about the boys who are over-represented in media as valued and worthy, albeit, too often, hyper-masculinized? I think that while benefits can accrue to them as a class, by imparting a sense of confidence and entitlement, the effects on individual boys can be awful.”

Ms. Chemaly’s final point is golden:

“We are a storytelling species, and symbolic representation and visibility are crucially important to the way we structure society. Exposing children to diversity in media encourages them to learn about people who are “different” and to understand why that difference isn’t the foundation of hierarchy, but community.”

Because a person’s genitals do not determine their behavior, their upbringing does. Because we’re not just girls and boys or women and men, we’re people.

The Internet to 4-Year-Old: Glasses Are Cool

Noah, a four-year-old who needed glasses, didn’t want to wear them. His mother took to the Internet for help with resounding success. In her own words:

“Our sweet 4-year old, Noah, just got glasses and is having a hard time adjusting. The saddest part is that he doesn’t want to wear them because, as he keeps telling us that “everyone will laugh at him”. Soooo… Let’s show Noah how awesome glasses really are by posting some pictures for him to see you in your glasses! Thank you for all the support – Noah sees each and every one of these pictures. Love to you all!!”
Glasses for Noah

From Glasses for Noah Facebook group.

Priceless!

Libraries as Safe Places

Jenn Hooker speaks out about making libraries safe places at Public libraries Online:

“We are not therapists, counselors, or social workers, but many librarians find themselves becoming well acquainted with their frequent patrons. If you see a patron, especially a young one, who is being taunted or abused for any reason, you can offer them a place in the library.

[…]

“Now that I work in a library and carry some power, I feel it is my duty to offer the same safety that was offered to me many years ago. I wear a rainbow Mickey Mouse pin on my work lanyard so as to subtly inform people, ‘I’m like you,’ and so far it’s worked. I smile at kids when they come in and make sure to speak up when I hear people using hateful epithets. No one, especially children, deserves to be attacked with malicious words. Sticks and stones may break bones, but no matter what anyone says, names can still be hurtful. With a little bit of effort, we can make sure that no harm ever befalls a child inside the walls of a library.”

Even though she writes specifically about LGBT youth, the principle has wider applicability. As one librarian – and a human being – to another, I say: Kudos, Jenn!

Stereotyping the Roma in SF&F

Author Jim C. Hines blogs about “Gypsies” and Other Fantasy Beings thus:

“I’m sure most of us recognize that by now, this has become a pretty common trope, even a cliche, in the genre. But hey, they’re fun. They’re part of the history of our genre. And stories never hurt anyone! “Gypsies” are just another fantasy race, like elves and mermaids and dwarves, right? It’s not like we’re talking about real people with real cultures and histories. [/Sarcasm]

[…]

“Overt, deliberate, blatant racism tends to be easier to identify and denounce. I doubt most authors are deliberately trying to base their writing on racist stereotypes […]

“That doesn’t change the fact that we’re buying into the racism. As authors, we’re perpetuating it. We’re reinforcing the stereotypes and teaching our audience that this is what the Roma people are — that they’re magical, hypersexual thieves.

“I remarked this past weekend that I love my SF/F geeks, but we’ve got some issues. Our complicitness in ignoring or erasing real people and replacing them with cliche and stereotype is one of them.

“We need to do better.”

See Jim’s article for more examples of prejudice and discrimination, plus links.